After the release earlier this year of their Picard Desk Crystal replica, December’s new Picard Isolinear Circuits are the second item in Roddenberry’s “Picard Desk Set” line of screen-accurate prop recreation from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
These isolinear circuits first made their appearance on Captain Picard’s ready room desk in Season 2’s “Where Silence Has Lease,” when they replace a set of different, larger isolinear circuits seen throughout Season 1. These curios would be a familiar object of Picard’s fascination up until their destruction, along with the rest of the Enterprise-D, in Star Trek: Generations.
As with other items in Roddenberry’s prop replica line, the isolinear circuits and their base come in a sturdy, custom-designed box that keeps them snug and scratch free during transit. Multiple foam rubber inserts separate the three pieces from one another, and getting everything out of the box feels like a special, almost ceremonial, event. Also included in the box is a certificate of authenticity printed on a small, gold-embossed card.
Roddenberry prides itself on the screen-accuracy of their prop replicas, and the isolinear circuits and their stand are no exception. Two unexpected results of this accuracy immediately stand out: the color of the circuits, and the material they’re made from. As noted by Roddenberry on the product page, the isolinear circuits are bright pink.
This may come as a surprise given that they tended to photograph as bright orange. Walking around with the circuits and viewing them in different lighting conditions and against a variety of backgrounds, I found that the circuits most often looked closer to the expected orange-pink, not the “pure” pink that I first saw when taking them out of the black box.
The second noticeable thing is the material the circuits and base are made from: acrylic plastic.
Despite knowing that the original props were made of acrylic, and despite having a collection of other acrylic isolinear chips and circuits, I can’t help but think that the acrylic nature of these isolinear circuits is a little disappointing; their light weight and the telltale plasticky clack of the two circuits bumping up against one another breaks the illusion that these are pieces of sophisticated technological equipment.
This is not to say that Roddenberry’s isolinear circuits are cheaply made; they just suffer from a common issue among authentic Star Trek prop replicas: the original props on which they are based are limited by production budget, and are designed to provide maximum visual impact when filmed on a professionally lit set.
Whether the prop feels in one’s hand like it can really do what it’s supposed to isn’t important, it’s whether the prop looks like it can do what it’s supposed to. The isolinear circuits on Picard’s desk look like they can be plugged into the Enterprise-D’s computer somewhere, and so do the Roddenberry replicas.
If the circuits had been made of glass (or transparent aluminum!), they may have been more satisfying to play around with, but they wouldn’t be screen accurate – and considering the price point, it’s worthwhile to ask yourself whether you’re more interested in accuracy or heft.
(I tried installing the isolinear circuits in my own computer but nothing happened; I guess they’re not compatible with 21st century technology. Oh well.)
Overall, the Roddenberry isolinear circuits are quite nice — and I’m happy to add them to my collection, and after displaying them in my home for a few days I’ve come to really like how they look.
I recommend placing the circuits on their base somewhere that they’ll catch and reflect light; from across a room they’re very striking.
This replica is the second of a three-part “Picard Desk Set” after last year’s crystal replica, so should we expect to see a Roddenberry-produced desk monitor next year? It would be the logical choice, but its size will certainly come with an increased price – but it may just be worth it.
Roddenberry’s Picard Isolinear Circuits Prop Replica set is available for sale now at their web store for $149 — and we’ll bring you news on their next replica once announced.